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How can the creative process help improve mental health?

Art Therapy at Pasadena Villa uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of our residents. The creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps residents resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem, including self-awareness, and achieve insight.

At Pasadena Villa, we work with each client to create individualized interventions to meet their specific needs for recovery. Within their treatment plan, residents are encouraged to create personal goals for their art therapy time. The goals of art therapy could be, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Demonstrate the ability to utilize art making as an effective coping skill
  • Modulate affect effectively, thereby increasing control over behavior
  • Demonstrate increased organizational skills
  • Exhibit a decrease in psychotic symptoms to progress toward the optimal level of functioning
  • Identify problem-solving skills he/she can use to overcome obstacles

Marnita Patton (MA, ATR, CCBT, CGT, CDP), Art Therapist, leads numerous art therapy groups at Pasadena Villa in Orlando, FL.  While we typically think of art therapy as painting or drawing, Marnita has brought to life ways that help our residents address any number of treatment goals, such as anxiety, depression, coping skills, grief and loss, and self-esteem. Art therapy groups help residents improve their emotional and mental state by opening the door to cope with painful memories, achieve empowerment, restore and invigorate their spirit, and develop healthy coping skills.

Healing Grief through Art Therapy

Through art making and sharing in a group setting, residents begin to understand their difficulties and individual strengths as well as discover new possibilities to cope with their grief. In a safe and supportive environment, their efforts at self-expression are reinforced to confirm that their feelings are valid, fears are understood, and needs are legitimate. Art making allows an individual the comfort, support, and energy to go on with life. As part of the healing process, art therapy has been shown to be effective promoting a sense of joy, peace, and relaxation. The important interaction between participants, art therapist and the art process help the individual move from isolation and loneliness to connection and empowerment; from denial to acceptance; from loss of control and anxiety to relief; and from despair to hope.

Out and About Art Adventures

Pasadena Villa’s Social Integration ModelTM introduces clients to hands-on involvement, in relevant, life strategies in the community in real time. There are many social Integration activities that embrace the arts in many ways. Outings may include the traditional museum or gallery and extend to less than ordinary to find art all around us.  Examples of these art outings include jewelry making, floral arranging, candy making, postage stamps collecting, visiting thrift stores, viewing artifacts and imports, and even may include excursions to parks and gardens with open air opportunities. These different activities allow our clinicians to provide ongoing feedback, support, and direction that help guide residents in meeting their individualized treatment goals.

Write to Heal

Writing is frequently used in therapy. As a form of art therapy, it focuses on creative writing as a therapeutic tool for those who enjoy written expression and being challenged with a specific theme, style, activity or simply working on an independent task.

Writing assists in externalizing what is being experienced internally, such as thoughts, doubts, desires, goals, plans, and emotions.  It can also help in working on aspects of self-esteem, self-concept, and self-efficacy, and can be helpful for those with difficulty verbalizing things that happen to them or what they feel, think, or want.

Putting pen to paper around thoughts, emotions, and desires is one of the best ways to organize feelings without feeling pressure or shame. By organizing these thoughts and feelings, the mental chaos turns into manageable, clear ideas. It also provides an outlet for the imagination, allowing for playfulness and creativity.

Writing may be used in the following situations:

  • Emotional management of uncomfortable feelings
  • Traumatic memories
  • Preparation
  • Making changes in your life
  • Finding perspective when facing a problem
  • Improving self-esteem
  • Preventing relapse (in cases of addiction, anxiety, depression)
  • Creativity in exploring styles and themes

Unblock Creativity

Art journaling combines art making and journaling to give a greater breadth of expression and understanding. Residents learn art techniques for setting up pages, writing ideas, and exploring different media. Journaling is about written and visual expression with the intention to create greater insight and understanding of the self and others. It is a space for questions that may not have answers, a place for thoughts that may otherwise not have a home, or a safe container for emotions.

Although the journal may become an extension of the self, it can also be a place to play and experiment with art materials.

A few benefits of unblocking our creativity:

  • Decrease stress by getting what is inside out on the paper
  • Gives time in the “right side” of the brain, where creativity reigns and problems can more easily be solved
  • Artsy stuff keeps us motivated and is a great way to record our stories, feelings, and ideas
  • It makes it easier for us to see patterns and gain insight as to what we need to do and how to move forward
  • It is a creative outlet that allows us to learn to enjoy the process instead of being concerned about the outcome

These and other art therapy groups at Pasadena Villa give residents an outlet for self-care, mindfulness, and growth, and a way to connect to their creative energy. We approach this therapeutic intervention without judgment and allow residents to engage and activate the mind in a different way and explore their emotions in a safe manner. Our goal is to help residents explore ways that help promote growth, discovery, and wellness.

If you think that you or a loved one may be struggling with a mental health disorder, Pasadena Villa can help. We are here to answer questions and connect to care. Pasadena Villa currently offers treatment at two residential locations in both Orlando, Florida and Knoxville, Tennessee, and outpatient services in Cary, North Carolina. To learn more about our program, call us at
1.877.845.5235
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